We all know winter is coming and yet every year it seems to creep up on us. So, when the clocks change, it’s an ideal time to do some simple checks to make sure you and your van are ready for the dark nights and cold weather to come.
The FTA Van Excellence Scheme’s code of practice requires daily vehicle checks, but it’s worthwhile spending a little extra time in the autumn to avoid costly breakdowns and accidents over the winter months.
Of course, it makes sense to do an extra tyre check to ensure they’re well within legal limits but nobody wants to be changing a tyre in heavy rain or snow, so look out for defects that could lead to a flat or blow-out.
The law says windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision and in the winter, that means dirt, smears and mist. Test the demister to make sure it works effectively and top-up your washer bottle with plenty of anti-freeze. Make sure worn-out wiper blades are replaced. That way you’ll avoid any risk of a fine or points on your licence.
It’s important to look after drivers in the winter too. Poor eyesight makes driving at night even harder. A regular eye check will pinpoint bad night vision and make sure appropriate glasses or contact lenses can be worn. Remember it’s also an offence to drive with vision that doesn’t meet the legal standard for driving.
Traffic jams can be longer and more frequent in bad weather, so pack a winter kit with extra warm clothing, snacks and a shovel and torch.
When you’re working to a tight schedule, it’s easy to forget how dangerous ice can be. But take a few moments to risk assess and park safely to make sure you don’t end up slipping as you get in and out of your vehicle.
Employers can join the FTA Van Excellence scheme to get help and advice on implementing practical policies to keep staff and vehicles safe this winter.
Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans, FTA